Stybar mulling worlds start after six-race cyclocross calendar

Former world champion says he may start at Hoogerheide if all goes well in his road build up

Zdenek Stybar is set to return to cyclocross for a limited schedule of races and may target the world championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands.

“For me, cyclocross will always be a big passion that is difficult to give up completely, even though my focus is now primarily on the road,” Stybar said in a press release on Friday from Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s training camp. “It’s an environment that I like a lot and that allows me to be near the fans that have supported me since my career began.”

Stybar will open a six-race calendar with his home race in Essen, Belgium, on Dec. 21. He will also start the World Cup in Zolder on Dec. 26, as well as four additional Kerstperiode events at Loenhout, Bredene, Diegem, and Baal.

“This year I will start at the back of the field because of the cyclocross rankings, so it will be difficult to achieve as good of results as in the past,” said Stybar. “In addition, I’ve based my training on the road season, in order to be competitive in the spring classics, so I don’t really know how I compare to the rest of the group. The level of cyclocross is very high, and there are very strong riders. The goal is to race as good as possible and give everything — out of respect for the races, the organizers and the fans. It will be fun to participate in these races.”

Stybar is a two-time elite world champion in cyclocross and rode in the eventual winning group at Paris-Roubaix in 2013 before colliding with a photographer late in the race and dropping out of contention. He will likely skip the Czech national championships in early January due to a conflict with a training camp.

“I don’t know yet if I will participate in the Czech national championships because they coincide with the team training camp, which is an important time for building a base for the new season,” he said. “The world championships are still a possibility. My participation will depend on how I feel in these first cyclocross races and on my level of preparation for the road season. If I am there, it will be to ride a good race.”

Stybar has not competed at the cyclocross world championships since 2012.